Monday, August 8, 2011

Are we losing another family tradition?

Print newspaper sales began falling before the recession began, continuing a downward spiral during the downturn and have failed to rebound ever since.

A steep drop in advertising revenue in 2008 and 2009, especially classified advertising, have taken their toll on newspapers and newspaper chains. This, coupled with a decline in circulation, have taken a toll on the printed media we depend on for up-to-date news and local events.

The economy has taken away revenue in advertising fees that many newspapers depend on. Many have filed bankruptcy for reorganization purposes, cut back on days of publication, laid off personnel, merged with other news organizations and shrunken the size of the paper, discontinuing features and reducing the amount of pages. Other papers, large and small, teeter on the brink of closing shop, and it is predicted by 2015 that many more will go by the wayside.

Others have focused less on breaking news, leaving the Internet to pursue and present the up-to-date news.

Gannett Co. owns 82 newspapers, as well as television stations, reported second-quarter profits decreased by 22 percent as circulation and print advertising declined.

The Washington Post noted that only 13 percent of Americans, or about 39 million, now buy a daily print newspaper.

At least 120 newspapers in the U.S. have shut down since January 2008, taking with them more than 21,000 jobs .

On the good side, the readership for online newspapers continues to grow. Online newspapers attracted on an average of more than 73 million visitors each month. But on the bad side, that still leaves 21,000 lost jobs in the industry.

Newspapers continue to struggle to meet challenges posed by changing reader habits, a shifting advertising market, and an anemic economy.

I remember as a kid reading the Sunday comics after coming home from church as my dad read the news. As I grew older, I read the comics less and read the news more, discussing it around dinner with the family. Will the days of families discussing the day’s events from the local newspaper be another lost tradition?

Central Jersey’s largest newspaper, without much fanfare, has again cut back on staff and the coverage of events. As newspapers continue to dwindle, getting coverage for local events through online digital media becomes somewhat difficult.

For over 200 years, newspapers have been the conventional watchdog and have been an integral part of American democracy.

As the world of online media grows, should it be considered progress?

Or is it a sign that, as the printed word disappears along with the journalists, reporters and photographers, that after 200 years it’s not just the newspapers that are in decline?

 ~ Joe Sinagra
     18th District Congressional Candidate

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